Latin America: Putin gets his license

by Fausta Rodríguez Wertz

The Economist‘s cover story:

Mr Putin’s new order, in short, is built on revanchism, a reckless disdain for the truth and the twisting of the law to mean whatever suits those in power. That makes it no order at all.

Some of the more unsavory heads of state in Latin America have been borrowing a page from Putin: Last year I posted on Mary O’Grady’s article on how Cuba Studies ‘Putinismo’ for Survival Tips

behind the scenes, putinismo blends authoritarian political control and crony capitalism to produce a lock on power.

It’s not only indirect “putinismo”: Putin has been interested in Latin America all along.

Russia has been cruising through the region for quite a while. On November 2008, the day before Thanksgiving, I was at Fox News talking about Russian warships holding military maneuvers with Venezuela in the Caribbean, and a Russian ship was docked in Havana last month.

Following John Kerry’s announcement last year that the Monroe Doctrine is over (thereby sticking a “Kick me” sign on America), Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced in February this year that Russia is negotiating with Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua for establishing permanent military bases in those countries.

One could say that Putin interpreted Kerry’s announcement as a license to ride on in the Americas.


While the United States has maintained close ties with Colombia and Chile, helping the former end a guerrilla warfare crisis perpetrated by left-wing leaders in the nation, the generation of leaders calling themselves Bolivarian socialists in Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, and, to a lesser extent, Peru have all expanded their ties with Russia.

You must read Martel’s article in full. She is definitely not exaggerating when she concludes,

Vladimir Putin has spent more than a decade investing in the loyalty of a continent often left behind by the puppetmasters of international diplomacy. When–not if–he decides to continue his westward expansion, he will be able to rely on the support of the assorted wayward leftist regimes of Latin America.

Venezuela’s oil props up Cuba, so Putin (at least for now) doesn’t have to bother supplying Cuba’s ruined economy for as long as Venezuela does. But for his long-term game, Putin’s been gaining the loyalty of a continent the US seems to neglect.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on American and Latin American politics at Fausta’s Blog.


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